Perhaps AT&T was in the pool? Once upon a time, $30 a month got AT&T's iPhone users an 'unlimited' data plan of up to 6GB a month. Now AT&T is squeezing that data plan down to 2GB a month, with a $5 discount. What's the deal with the data plan shrinkage? Will it effect you? Read on...

First off, a tip of the hat goes to The Unofficial Apple Weblog. They sat down and spoke with Seth Bloom from AT&T's public relations team about the details of the new plan. Here's a checklist of what you need to know:
  • If you're already using an iPhone 3G or 3GS with an unlimited data plan, you get grandfathered in, even with purchase of iPhone 4
  • If you go over your 2GB a month, you can add another 1GB at $10
  • AT&T says that their reason for the low overhead was that they analyzed customer data and saw that 98% of users didn't touch the 2GB mark and saw an ability to give customers a break (e.g. $5 less) and apparently (thought it's not said) tax those who use the system more.
  • AT&T is now offering an entry level $15/200MB a month plan on the iPhone
Bloom apparently says the new data plans aren't a result of a fried network. On the contrary, he claims the network is great. AT&T is trying to play good-guy here, and offer cheaper, lower entry points for the iPhone, he claims.

But that's the USA. What about across the pond? News coming in from UK provider O2 that they're dropping their 'unlimited' plan to a single GB. That's right: 1GB. You can add a GB for an additional £10 on top of an already £45 a month for a 1 year plan. This, in short, is absolutely terrible. Think about it this way: some hefty iPhone apps can range from 5MB to 10MB. Some PDFs can range from 5MB to 10MB. That means, if you're doing a lot of work e-mail, downloading PDFs, apps, drawing in data from the web inside those apps, you're going to hit the 1GB mark in less than a month.

Suddenly, AT&T's U.S. strategy doesn't look so bad compared t the O2's strategy in the UK. But you have to wonder: If AT&T's network (or even O2's) can handle the data, why not just have a completely unlimited option to appease customers, and charge up the wazoo if they really want it?

Verizon already does it. My Motorola Droid does not have a data cap. What's stopping the telcos from providing something truly unlimited, if their argument is "98% of users don't need that, so what's the big deal?"

Exactly. What is the big deal? AT&T could be making money off customers who use an unlimited plan but don't actually even hit the 6GB mark. Why not at least offer it?

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